This week I wrapped up a feature article for the December issue of P&N (I know, December sounds crazy far away!). It was all about trying to get a decent night’s sleep during pregnancy. I asked my social media world for insight, as I often do: “Moms, what was your biggest sleep obstacle during pregnancy? How did you overcome it?”
I heard back from dozens of mamas—as unique as each pregnancy may be, it seems we can all agree that it’s hard to stay well rested when expecting. I knew I would hear about folks feeling uncomfortable sleeping on their side, and I knew I would hear complaints about having to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. I was surprised, however, to hear how many women struggled with nightly heartburn. And I have to admit, I’ve noticed heartburn more in this pregnancy than in my others. It’s like that nasty stomach acid doesn’t quite want to stay down. In researching remedies, it was nice to learn that Tums and other antacids are considered safe during pregnancy (but always get your doctor’s consent first). So, if sleeping at an incline isn’t doing the trick (One girl said she actually spent the third trimester sleeping in a recliner!), I know I can hit the drug store for some relief.
I was also surprised to hear RLS—restless legs syndrome—come up several times. But then as I thought about it, I realized I had also experienced a bit of RLS this pregnancy, without giving it a name.
My most surprising response wasn’t necessarily a bad piece of advice, but it was something I’d never considered. A friend said that her unborn baby would keep her up at night by wiggling nonstop every time she would lie down to go to sleep. (That part is normal—my baby likes to get wiggly for a few minutes after I lie down, too.) She said she would put her baby to sleep in the womb by rocking on her feet and swaying her hips, just as you would soothe a newborn. When the baby stopped kicking and wiggling, she would lie down very carefully, so as to keep baby asleep. Funny, right? Does anyone else do this?
As for me, I tend to fall asleep pretty easily, no matter what time I go to bed. It’s one of the few benefits of living with hypothyroidism. It’s the staying asleep that can be a challenge. I typically get up once during the night to use the bathroom, careful to leave the lights off so I can get back to sleep quickly. I also tend to toss and turn, even on my cushy Tempur-Pedic mattress. My hips get really sore if I don’t keep a pillow between my knees, and I LOVE my Boppy wedge pillow under my belly. I’ve never done the giant pregnancy body pillow, but it would be fun to try sleeping in a cozy nest like that. I’ve also never felt the need to buy one because they’re just so darn big. Where do you put it when you’re not asleep? I’m kind of intrigued by the facedown pillow with a hole for the belly, but it seems like it might harm your circulation to be facedown for very long, even if there isn’t any pressure on the uterus. So, I’ll keep up with my nightly side-switching habits. Only two months left! And then I’ll remember that sleeping after the birth is ten times harder than sleeping before the birth.